The latest Isuzu D-Max has been a roaring success since its launch in the latter-half of 2020. We’ve driven almost every model in the range at this point and have been very impressed with what we’ve seen thus far – from its pleasant on-road dynamics to its off-road capability and its interior that trumps almost all of the competition. It’s also jumped five places (up to seventh overall) and over 10,000 units in the sales race between 2020 and 2021.
There’s one version that had put a bee in my bonnet, however – the range-topping X-Terrain. Certainly, it looked the part, but the interior was lacking the X-factor the top-spec ought have, along with some of the features it deserved as well.
Now updated for the 2022 model year, Isuzu appears to have listened to the feedback from myself and others, as the D-Max X-Terrain is now looking a lot more colourful inside. Prices are up, however, with a list price of $65,990 but a special drive-away offer of $62,990 for the X-Terrain.
Externally, it’s still all identical to the 2021 launch model – a very good thing in my eyes. With its dark grey aero sports bar and rear fins, chunky fender flares, and beefy front and rear bumpers, it looks tough yet still very smart – especially so in this Cobalt Blue mica hue, rather than the Volcanic Amber metallic hero colour.
The X-Terrain now gets a tow bar receiver as standard, both to save buyers some money and to simplify the ordering process given the majority would be adding a towbar anyway given nearly half of all Australian Isuzu owners use their vehicles to tow. A tub liner and roller tonneau cover still remain standard on the 2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain as well.
It’s on the inside where the real changes can be seen, however, as this cabin I formerly criticised for not feeling special enough given its range-topping position has been given a real overhaul. Red contrast stitching abounds – it’s everywhere you look from the steering wheel to the dashboard and door cards to the shifter and parking brake boots and of course on the seats as well, and while it doesn’t sound particularly major, it really does give this the sporty and special vibe it required in my eyes.
Also setting it off is a unique blacked-out instrument cluster with ‘X’ badging and red motifs within the dial designs – again, something that really helps it feel a step above. There’s gloss black trim on the dashboard and steering wheel, and matte black trim around the shifter as well to really help the red stitching pop. No longer does this feel like any other model in the range but merely with leather seats – it feels properly distinctive.
Speaking of the seats, Isuzu has addressed perhaps the 2021 model’s most discussed omission by finally adding heated front seats. There are heated wing mirrors and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror as well. The latter is an off-the-shelf part you’ll see in a multitude of other cars, though, and didn’t seem to be the best fit given it was right in the way of the sun visor going down where I had it positioned.
Beyond this, it still remains the same well-designed and tech-laden cabin it was before, with the big 9.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay (although still no wireless phone charger), dual-zone climate control, an eight-speaker sound system with speakers in the headlining, and an advanced suite of active safety tech including adaptive cruise control and Level 2 semi-autonomous assistance.
Worth noting is that Isuzu has addressed another common complaint there – many lamented the difficulty of turning off the overbearing Lane Support System as it required going through several menus while stationary; now, it can simply be turned off by holding down a switch on the steering wheel. Again, it’s another positive sign of Isuzu listening to and understanding its customers.
Because the company and customer relationship is so strong – even winning Isuzu UTE Australia the Roy Morgan ‘Best of the Best’ customer satisfaction award last year – it’s why what lies under the bonnet remains unchanged for the 2022 Isuzu D-Max, at least in the case of the X-Terrain.
That means you still get the bulletproof ‘4JJ3-TCX’ 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that was introduced on this model, which produces 140kW at 3600rpm and 450Nm from 1600-2600rpm – right where you want it for towing or hauling a heavy payload. In the X-Terrain, a six-speed Aisin automatic transmission and selectable four-wheel drive with a rear diff-lock is standard.
Worth adding here is that a new 1.9-litre twin-turbo diesel engine has been added to the Isuzu D-Max for 2022. It’s only in the entry-level SX Single Cab variant, but will likely be the engine other markets like the UK receive range-wide. We’ll report more on that when we can get our hands on one.
As far as this X-Terrain and the rest of the range is concerned, though, the D-Max remains one of the most pleasant utes to drive out there. With its smooth power delivery and incredibly usable torque, it might be a bit behind the class leaders in terms of grunt, but it rarely leaves you wanting for much more, especially given the power is available where it matters the most.
The six-speed auto remains a slick unit, with the improved shift logic of this compared to in last-gen models helping it feel far more drivable and responsive. Factor in the four-wheel drive system, rear locker, and the D-Max’s 240mm of ground clearance, and it’s just as good an off-roader as ever as well.
Admittedly, I’d love to see it sporting some all-terrain rubber like the similarly-priced Nissan Navara PRO-4X as the highway-terrain tyres are the one off-road let-down, but those really looking to take theirs on the rough stuff will no doubt add them themselves.
The H/Ts do at least make sense when you consider the distinctly sporty feel of the D-Max – that is, in comparison to other utes. The steering is tight and responsive, and the ride nicely balances comfort and lateral body control, giving you more confidence behind the wheel than many utes offer.
Given the Drive Section team has racked up thousands of kays in the current D-Max off-road, on road trips, and putting in some hard yakka, I already knew what I was in for with this 2022 update, so it’s safe to say I wasn’t surprised nor disappointed with the behind-the-wheel experience.
What I am impressed by, though, is Isuzu’s willingness to listen to feedback and retool its lineup and offerings to address complaints and change them for the better. With just a few minor but incredibly thoughtful touches, it’s made this D-Max X-Terrain range-topper go from a dressed-up ute with leather seats to something that feels like a deliberate and thoughtful package.
Given the $62,990 drive-away deal offered on this range-topper, it might be $4000 dearer than when this model launched, but it’s still realistically cheaper once you’re out the door than the lesser LS-U Auto and new LS-U+ variants would be.
Previously, I’d have said to just stick with the LS-U and kit it out however you’d want it yourself. Now, though, the X-Terrain really feels like the full quid. Kudos, Isuzu – this ticks just about every box I hoped it would.
2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain List Price: $65,990 | Drive-Away: $62,990
- Performance - 8/108/10
- Ride & Handling - 8.5/108.5/10
- Tech & Features - 9/109/10
- Practicality - 8.5/108.5/10
- Value for Money - 8/108/10
Pros: Interior finally feels the part thanks to contrast stitching and bespoke gauge cluster, heated seats are a highly-desired addition, looks and feels sportier than most utes
Cons: Price increase, still no wireless phone charging, could do with some extra grunt by now to keep up with the competition
In a nutshell: With a refreshed interior that feels far more special than before, the 2022 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain finally feels the full quid. Displaying its prowess both on- and off-road, you really can’t go wrong with this thing.
Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Isuzu UTE Australia for three weeks with a full tank of fuel.